KEARNEY — To highlight the importance of renewable fuels, Cooperative Producers Inc. Premier Stop in Kearney hit the gas on ethanol-blended fuels by offering customers discounts recently on E10, E15 and E85.
For the event, Kearney Premier Stop partnered with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska. More than 300 drivers participated.
“We are really drawing attention to the renewable fuels industry that we have here in Nebraska, whether that’s ethanol or biodiesel,” said Kurtis Harms, the Nebraska Corn Board director of Communications. “As part of Renewable Fuels Month, we all travel to different gas stations throughout the state. We’ll partner with those stations that are offering higher blends of ethanol because ethanol is very important to our corn farmers.”
Since 2006, one month has been dedicated to recognizing the benefits of renewable biofuels by the Nebraska governor. Throughout May, promotional events are held at stations like Kearney Premier Stop, during which customers could save 30 cents off of E15, 30 cents off of E30 and 85 cents off of E85.
Drivers were greeted at each pump and shown the ethanol blends that were compatible with their vehicle’s model year.
E15 is recommended for vehicles built in 2001 or newer, and E30 and E85 are approved for flex fuel vehicles. Flex fuel vehicles can be identified by yellow gas caps or a flex fuel emblem near the rear hatch or trunk.
Nebraska drivers can help local farmers when they fill up their gas tanks at Kearney Premiere Stop’s new blender pumps, which were installed last November.
“Agriculture continues to be the largest economic driver for the state and job supporter,” said Steve Wellman, Nebraska Department of Agriculture director. “Renewable fuels come from a lot of the products that we raise — corn, soybeans, sorghum and the livestock that we raise here can be turned into renewable fuels. So it’s a great system. It all adds value.”
Nebraska is No. 2 in ethanol production nationwide, second to Iowa. In addition to improving the economy, renewable biofuels save consumers money and benefit the environment.
Wellman said corn-based ethanol reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by 46% compared with conventional gasoline.
Even as electric vehicles become more relevant, ethanol will continue to benefit the environment.
“Twenty to 30 years down the line, (electric vehicles) will greatly affect the ethanol industry, however, there are many options the ethanol industry is going to be able to go through in the meantime,” said Jan tenBenzel, Nebraska Ethanol Board chairman.
TenBenzel said ethanol fuel could be used more frequently to generate the electricity for electric vehicles. Flex fuel hybrid vehicles are also an option that uses ethanol while driving in rural areas and electricity in urban areas.
“An important thing people can do is ask their retailers to add E15 and higher blends,” tenBenzel said. “E15 is going to be the new standard fuel in Nebraska and in the Midwest and in a few years, it will be the standard fuel in the United States.”